The Anticipation Continues to Build: Fan Expo Canada 2017 Draws Near 


Early today I checked the mail and to my surprise they had arrived! My badge and wristband for Fan Expo we’re finally here. This is very big for me as it has been quite some time since I last went to Fan Expo and really got to enjoy it. I did work the event last year, but that was a dark and sad time that will be sweeped under the rug and forgotten about. This year will be a return to form of sorts as I get back into the spirit of this convention. 

I should first though provide a brief description of this event for those that might not be aware of this convention. It is a convention that includes fandoms for just about everything from anime to horror, to gaming and more. You  like Sci-Fi? You like Fantasy? Fan Expo has been a celebration of everything geeky for many years. As the noteriety of Fan Expo increased so did the size of the event until it came to encompass the entire convention centre in Toronto for 4 days at the end of August. From it’s humble beginnings as a collection of various conventions, it has grown to be inclusive of so many fandoms and an event that people prepare for each and every year. 

When I was younger I use to go every year. Without fail I made it to the convention every year between 2008 and 2013. But of course other things, unexpected things, came up and I was unable to attend for several years. Now, now I’m ready, I’m able, and I’m prepared. Preparation is always key when it comes to conventions, as well as many other things in life. So I suppose here are a few tips to keep in mind when going to Fan Expo, or any convention really.

Step 1:

Budget Budget Budget. Always have a limit when it comes to spending. Make sure you set a specific dollar amount that you are willing to spend and keep to it. You will be tempted to hit up the ATM but at the end of the day you will be met with regret. 

Step 2:

Schedule your time! Keep in mind that all conventions follow the same progression of events. Thursday and Friday will be the preliminary days, set up and prep for what is to come. Saturday is always THE DAY. The big day when most celebrities will be at the con, when most panels will be taking place, and when the most people will be present at the convention. Sunday is always the horrifying realization day for all retailers, the realization being that they will have to pack up and transport all their items back to their stores. On Sunday you are most likely to get the best last minute deals, so wait to do most of your shopping on Sunday. And always, compromise what you want to do if you are attending with a group of friends. Communicate with your friends and always make sure that you plan out as much of the con as possible. 

Step 3:

Keep hydrated and fed. Bring water and snacks with you or else you’ll have to face the consequences of overpriced convention food. But still make sure to always leave some extra money in the budget for food as well.

Step 4:

Watch out for pickpockets. It’s sad to say it but on the convention floor it will be entirely possible that people might try to steal from you. Don’t worry too much, just make sure to not carry anything too valuable with you and always make sure you keep your wallet and phone on you. Do not leave that stuff in your backpack cause you will get bumped around and you will be paranoid that someone is attempting to rob you. It’s a sad reality, but you should always be mindful of this. 

That’s about it really. Now I will have some followup posts in the days to come, and I will even be posting some videos on my YouTube channel live from the convention so lookout for that content in the coming weeks. And if you have any questions about Fan Expo, or just conventions in general, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message about it. 

Lackluster Collector’s Editions: Sonic Mania… Just Meh

I should mention first and foremost that the purpose of this post is not to comment on the game itself but instead the retail release of Sonic Mania only. The only thing I will say about the game is that while it is fun, it is incredibly easy and lacks that little something special in it, otherwise it is a perfectly good game, in terms of Sonic games. The focus of this post is to take a look at this sorry excuse of a Collector’s Edition. 

It’s great to see some effort put into releasing this game with some physical bonuses, but why? Why did they include these extras only to skimp out and include a download code for the game rather than a physical copy??? This is my biggest complaint for this release. Typically a person that will go out and buy a special release of a game is a person that collects. They want physical items, not a code on a piece of paper. I really think they misread their audience on that point there. Yeah it would cost more to produce but at the size of this box, people would pay even upwards of 150$, well, until you see what the figure actually looks like. 

Will I’m fine with the design and look of the figure, a large Sonic on top of a model 1 Genesis, I hate the execution of it all. The plastic feels cheap and incredibly hollow. While the sound gimmick reminds me of my childhood, once you realize how basic the function is it makes you wonder why they couldn’t include any other sounds or lights. And of course considering that the plastic feels cheap and the figure is hollow you could probably guess that it is also incredibly light for something its size. 

As for the rest of the included items… WHY??? Why did they include the biggest tease of a retro style bonus item in all of existence. It seemingly looks like a Sega Genesis game cartridge but you excitement will quickly go away as you realize that it is only a case in the style of a Genesis cartridge. And to make it worse, what is it a case for you ask? A ring, a gold Sonic ring. Yeah you heard me. Inside this fake out of a bonus item is an absolutely pointless and useless gold ring. Also for what it’s worth there is a quite pointless metal card included for some unknown reason. 

Am I cheesed, definitely, but don’t get me wrong about this all. I am still very happy to own this. The nostalgia is strong in this special edition. And for me it’s getting to be just enough nostalgia to make up for the downfalls of the Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition. So unless you are a big Sonic fan, don’t waste your money, just download the game and leave it at that. 

Catching a Scam: Knowing What to Look for When Purchasing Collectibles Online

       

As the old addage says “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. This is something you will always want to keep in mind when shopping online. While some reputable online sellers will run regular promotions, most people online are just trying to get top dollar for their merchandise. 

The first thing you must always consider when shopping online is who is the retailer. You’re typically safer buying things online from major brick and mortar retailers as they will run different sales online and usually provide more products online as well. If needed you can also return most online purchases to the retailers in store. 

When buying any sort of collectible online you want to be extra careful about your purchase as in demand items are frequently faked. If you see an item you’re looking for on the website for Wal-Mart, you’re most likely in the clear, but if you are looking at a listing on eBay, with generic pictures, and only a Buy It Now price, take a minute and look at what you’re doing. Typically eBay is good on returns and filing claims if items show up not as described in the ads but it’s still best to not deal with that ordeal. 

One type of item I see faked very often are figures of any kind, especially anime themed figures or anything coming originally from Japan. So if you’re looking at Figma figures for example, make sure you get pictures of the actual item when shopping online. Red flags to look for include terms like new out of box, or any excuses for why the item might not be or not include it’s original packaging. Every retailer selling figures as new will always sell them new in box, and nearly every collector will keep their figures in the box as most collectors do. 

Always make sure to read descriptions as some sellers online will use language to their advantage. Some will rely on poor translations to to trick some buyers and other sellers might try using small fine print at the bottom of long descriptions. For this the only thing you can really do is take the time to look at all associated text and try to discern what the sellers intent might be. 

Sometimes though you’ll find incredibly well priced items that are clearly knock-offs. In this case unless you absolutely want the genuine article, these fakes can be a viable option. I recently purchased a few Figma and Nenderoid figures that are almost definitely fakes, but they look like the real thing and include all the correct accessories. Quality though is a factor as they are typically of a lesser quality but with something like a figure it is usually acceptable. 

I’ll say that typically the more involved an item is, like an iPod or smartphone, don’t ever substitute it for a fake. If it is something like a figure, toy, poster or anything else like that, fakes can be nearly indistinguishable from the genuine item. 

If you have the means to spend as much as you like on an item then you should always make sure to buy from reputible sellers online or in store, but if you are a collector on a budget, then knock-off figures and such can be a great alternative for display pieces, and you won’t have to worry about possibly damaging the typically expensive original figures. 

So in review always be mindful of how online sellers display and present their products and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Apologizing For The Delay

It’s been a busy few weeks for me. Over the last two weeks I’ve been preoccupied by work, driving school and I’ve also had some private stuff to take care of. Please don’t go thinking that I have forgotten about this blog again. I am making a strong effort this time to post original and thoughtful content and I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that a new post will be coming up next week. In this new post I will be talking about something any collector will have to deal with at one point or another and that is counterfiet merchandise. It doesn’t matter what you collect, my post next week will be valid towards everyone. I will be listing off some tips and tricks when it comes to making sure that you’re getting what you paid for. Again this post will be published next week so please look out for it. 

Who Won E3 2017?: The Subjective Nature of Video Game Reporting

Following E3 every year the first thing most seem to discern is which game developer rained supreme and which managed to “win” E3. Excuse me, but when did it become a competition? In all industries there inherently exists some form of competition between different companies producing the same product or service, but when and why did a showcase of upcoming products become a competition to be won? 

Seems like every year gamers across the world wait for E3 to come along so that they can turn their fandom into an all out war, pitting developers against each other, Nintendo vs. Sony vs. Microsoft. In recent years E3 has turned into a stash of munitions that Fanboys use against each other in their ongoing efforts to Prove that their fandom supercedes another’s. But why? Why is it that people have begun to use E3 announcements in this way? 

For me E3 was an exciting time of year, a moment in which to see what new and exciting software and hardware was to hit the market in the near future. Now though everyone focuses on the competition of it all. Instead of looking at the latest announcements and longing for the opportunity to test out all the amazing new things for yourself, people are more fascinated in tallying up points on an imaginary scoreboard to divine the winner of it all. 

I just can’t understand the significance as to why such a process would even be necessary. Personally I think that many studios showed off exciting new games like more news on Super Mario Oddesy, and unexpected reveals such as Beyond Good and Evil 2. I am excited for this all, but more and more people these days take an amazing announcement and turn it into just another point for the team they support. It’s fine to love and support whatever you like, but I find fault in how game or hardware is reduced to a point when in reality it is so much more complex than that. Who knows on first impression alone if they will actually like something or not? And in creating the yearly E3 competition we are all forced to make snap judgements that can lead to disappointment and mistrust later on. People buy into the hype of the competition and when the time comes to experience that new game or hardware first hand, many drop their rose-colored glasses and finally see it all for what it truly is. All glamour, no substance. It’s completely expected if one wishes to voice their opinions from the get go, but when a product has not yet been released, not yet experienced, how can there be such a definite clear-cut winner? 

At the end this is just me bitching about competition and wishing that people could just like and be excited for something, without the need to quantify it and pit one team against another. You know what though, video game developer have always invited competition to be had between each other. So if you have to pick a clear-cut winner in your own mind, please at least be able to see that E3 every year is a great time where you’ll be able to get news on what is coming out later that year ( or several years in the future).

The Fate of Ala Mhigo: Anticipation for Stormblood

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As a long time Final Fantasy XIV playerI’ve had a lot of love and hate for the game over the years. It has been very enjoyable and aggravating but still I come back to it like a person in an abusive relationship. That doesn’t make the game sound enticing but for many it doesn’t matter at all. I have been playing since the launch of A Realm Reborn back in the summer of 2013. The story for me has never been the strongest as I am personally not a fan of the MMORPG genre and see the story as only existing to add on newer content as time goes by. The story becomes an ever-changing living thing in the world of the game and it becomes hard to follow, like a person starting The Walking Dead with season 3. Therefor the story in Final Fantasy XIV has never really been the reason why I play the game. The real reason why I play this game is because it’s one of the few games that I play with my friends, and partially because I like looking at all the amazing and detailed gear sets, adorable minions and epic mounts! I typically don’t like cooperating and working with others in video games and prefer rather to play puzzle games, fighters or just single player RPGs. Well, with this background into my experience with and reason for playing Final Fantasy XIV I suppose it’s about time I get to talking about my feelings in the last week prior to the early access launch of Stormblood.

I decided that I would subscribe again a few weeks prior to the launch to prepare myself and my character for the expansion ahead of us. Turns out I got really rusty after months of levelling random classes and then being unsubscribed. Back when Heavensward launched I still had not reached max level and completed all the story quests so I was stuck doing a mad dash to the Holy See of Ishgard. Before the last expansion I just playing catchup to all my friends but this time around I am prepared. I might not have the best gear but I am still set for what is to come. I wasn’t able to enjoy any story elements in the past because I had to just rush through it all to get caught up, but now I am ready for this and hope to actually pay attention to the goings on in this virtual world. Now I’ve been trying to play catchup with the story in the lead up to Stormblood and it has somewhat piqued my interest. My knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of Eorzea is pretty weak but I’ve been trying to understand the history behind the conflict in Ala Mhigo and the reason behind the inclusion of all these new areas to the game. Hopefully the interaction with the Garleans will bring on some interesting new dungeons and bosses and primals.

Unlike many that are bursting at the seems with excitement for the new expansion, I am sitting here in quiet anticipation hoping that for once in the 4 years that I have been playing Final Fantasy XIV that I will be able to fully experience and enjoy both the gameplay and the story of Stormblood. I might not have all the information or the best knowledge of the story but now I truly want to see and understand what happened all those years ago in the Sixth Astral Age that lead to so many leaving Ala Mhigo for the lands of the original game. But of course, SAMURAI AND RED MAGE! 

At the start of Heavensward I was still playing catchup and couldn’t really experience the new jobs that were introduced with the expansion. This time around I am ready and I plan to play both as soon as possible. I still though will be focusing on getting my main two classes up to max level before I fully commit to either Samurai or Red Mage. I won’t really know how it’ll all work out though until launch. At this time I am still planning out a course of action but nothing is set in stone quite yet.

If you play Final Fantasy XIV and are excited for the arrival of Stormblood please comment below with your thoughts. What are you looking forward to the most?

Great Finds in Strange Places: Hunting for Collectables in Peculiar Spaces

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For those of us that have been long time collectors, finding new places to hunt for the stuff we collect becomes fairly easy. We learn to look for signs all over the place that might lead to more and more stuff. You have to keep your eyes and ears open when it comes to collecting older, retro/vintage stuff, because it’s not like you can just go down to a shopping centre or big box store to do your shopping. Instead you have to rely on thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales to do your shopping. Depending on your location, success at these places will vary, and for some people most of these will not be viable options. Hopefully this may help some of you find that special item you’re looking for in some strange and unusual places.

From experience I have found a lot of amazing finds in some really unexpected places. Sharing my stories might be helpful to you in finding new places to track down whatever it might be you’re looking for. I personally focus on video games and action figures, but I do collect other things such as comics, movies, and vinyl.

First unusual location for a video game find was at a music/movie store the day they opened. They had assumed the stock of an older store and just had boxes and boxes of stuff. The owner also had boxes of random DVDs, Records and random crap. Whenever I see boxes of stuff like that I always ask if I can take a look and I’m so happy that I asked to take a look because I happened to find a bunch of GameCube games and a few other games as well. Since they only really sold music and movies at this store the owner did not care for that stuff at all and gave them to me for free since I technically helped him organize and “throw out” unwanted stuff.

Another Time I was walking down the street, deciding on what I wanted to eat when I came along an old book store. I went in to take a look only to realize that it was much more than just old books. This store had shelf after shelf of books, movies, and even video games all mixed together. So after forgetting about even getting anything to eat I proceeded to spend the next 2 hours combing through every single item in the store to make sure I didn’t leave anything that I really wanted behind.

I really wish I could suggest pawn shops as well but they are not always a great option. They tend to have items in really poor condition and expect way too much money in return for what they have. But every once in a while you never know what might come in, like a rare NES game, or some interesting older electronics. Keep in mind that pawn shops should always be considered when hunting for all sorts of items, but you stand to be disappointed by mediocrity and nothingness most of the time.

If you collect DVDs I highly recommend that you look into old stock at rental stores, if they still exist in your area. I’ve been able to find some great deals at some local stores for next to nothing, just a few bucks for something that would have otherwise cost me well over 30-50$.

I also want to mention the random everything stores that exist all across major cities in typically hipster neighbourhoods. I would classify these types of store separately from thrift stores or antique stores as an antique store will usually focus on a theme or just furniture, and a thrift store typically sells used items at a large discount. These everything stores will contain just about everything, including even a kitchen sink! I have seen some very unusual stores, packed so full you can barely maneuver around the store, but I’ve been able to find all sorts of interesting items for fairly cheap at stores like this. It’s hard to classify these stores as what they are and rather it is easier to classify them as what they are not.

The point that I’m trying to get at is that you never know where the newest item in your collection might come from. Make sure to look out for stores with no discernible signage, packed full of stuff, stores that are new and just opening up, or even stores that seem to have been forgotten by most and just linger like a random half-forgotten memory. Continue looking for stuff in conventional places but when the going gets tough, spread out and start thinking outside the box and maybe you’ll come by exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Too Much of a Good Thing: When Collecting Becomes an Addiction

 

 

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I can admit it, I am addicted. But unlike the typical addict, my drug of choice is video games. I have become addicted to finding great games, amazing deals, and crazy stories to go along with the buzz of an amazing score. You might ask why video games, but you will then come to see that it is so much more than video games. I derive great joy from finding and consuming countless different things from video games, to comics, to action figures and more and all of this has spawned from my addiction to shopping. Stepping back and viewing my actions from a distance I can see that it was always a matter of shopping and spending more than anything else, and I suppose this might have begun long ago when i was very young and every weekend my mother would “drag” my sister and I along with her to the mall. Since those frequent mall trips when I was very young exposed me to so many things I wanted, and my mother never bought me all the things i longed for, save for special occasions, I have now become this person that wishes to do what they could not do as a child. What I have been doing for quite some time now is spend and buy all the things i could never have as a kid. I’ve been reconnecting with things first rather than memories and that has put me into this cycle of buying more and more and not truly enjoying and putting to use the items that I get. I suppose there are many factors as to why I have become this type of “have it all” collector, but what needs to be done now is to form a plan of action to counteract my current mindset. I don’t need all of something, I don’t need a complete set, I WANT these things and I need to stop allowing my wanting to supersede my logic. Am I ever going to completely stop shopping or collecting? Probably not. Should I try to be more responsible in my decision making when it comes to shopping? 100% YES! It’s not a bad thing to shop or collect something, but it gets to be bad when you let it overload you, take over and consume your being. Maybe I should take some queues from my friends and begin to look objectively at what I have, what I truly enjoy, and take steps towards downsizing and focusing the scope of my collecting habits. No more buying something just because I don’t have it. No more trying to spend every single dollar I have to feed my habits (well I’ll have to work on that in time). I need to take some time, reflect on how I’ve been acting and look at what I have really amassed, and seriously consider reducing and sell off parts of my collection.

Let me know if any of this resonates with you and your experience, no matter what your addiction is. Of course I can’t talk for anything serious, but to me this is absolutely serious and requires some acknowledgement. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad about this situation and I definitely am not hating on collecting, but instead I’m trying to point out that the reason one collects can lose all meaning and sometimes you just have to step back and look at how you’ve been acting and how you’ve been spending.

 

Picture above originally from: geeksout.org

Work in Progress…

So… to say that I have been neglecting my website would be a massive understatement. It’s as if I killed it off, left it for dead in a ditch but somehow it clung to life waiting for my return. I’m working on a way to bring some TLC to my website for this summer and hopefully it gets the attention it deserves. I will put to use my knowledge and skill set to bring forth a new and simple blog space for everything in Geekdom, with an emphasis on collecting and simply written reviews for those that are put off by technobabble and unfamiliar terminology. Hopefully 2017 can be the year I reach out and help in the community, and this blog can function as another branch of my online presence. Let’s wait and see how this works out!

Review Time! with Dragondude2525: Chibi-Robo Zip Lash ***Rating 4/5***

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I gotta say… good job Nintendo! I absolutely enjoyed this game! I only have two faults with this game, but that will be addressed later on. First things first, I absolutely love the character of Chibi-Robo and to get to adventure with him again is greatly appreciated. The platforming is easy to accomplish with Chibi-Robo’s skill set allowing for easy hovering and jumping. The controls for the game are prime as well. You use the X button for the standard short range attack, and if you use it while jumping you can combine the action to hover momentarily. The Y button is used for for the more powerful long range attack, which can also be used to ricochet off certain walls to attack multiple enemies or reach platforms in difficult to reach locations. to target an object to hit with your plug you can use the circle pad, but for more delicate targeting you can use the D pad for minor adjustments. The gameplay is not extremely varied, but the typical platforming is broken up by segments or nearly entire levels where you are on a vehicle or some means of transportation, these levels tend to be a little bit more difficult if you are a completionist and don’t have great hand eye coordination. But at least the game doesn’t make it too difficult for young players or people that are not as good with platformers as it makes it very difficult for you to die, as long as you have been collecting and depositing trash and buying backup batteries and jet packs. The included Amiibo in the bundle is also a great item to have included as the pose is adorable and gives your character an in-game super boost. Other Amiibo also unlock bonus coins of the in-game currency. Overall the game itself offers a lot of items to collect that will have you repeating levels over and over again if you weren’t lucky enough to get it all the first time around.

Now come the two things I viewed as faults, two reason that resulted in me scoring this game a 4/5 rather than anything higher. The worlds of the game are just dull and repetitive. They are not all that great to look at but at least they function as suitable locations for platforming. My biggest gripe with the game is the roulette mechanic of the level select screen! in each world you have six levels, followed by a boss level that unlocks after the other 6 are completed. But instead of progressing through each level in order, you have to spin a wheel that gives you either 1, 2 or 3 spaces to move, resulting on repeated levels if you happen to land on the wrong number. At the end of each level though you get a chance to target one of three space ships, Gold, Silver, Bronze and they give you 3, 2, or 1 extra spin on the wheel respectively. Along with this you have the option of buying numbered tiles to replace ones on the wheel so that you have a better chance of landing on the desired location. They included a method of level selecting that was indirect and almost random, but then gave players several different methods to which they could avoid this whole mechanic. This I did not like at all, but it does not ruin the entire game for me, in fact it only somewhat affected my opinion of the game, but did not stop me from playing it for hours on end. It’s a great game to pickup and play for a few minutes or to sit down and enjoy for an hour or two. Hopefully this was of some help in your decision making process in purchasing this game.